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Another Open Letter Dissident Arrested

December 5, 2002

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned of the secret arrest of Dai Xuezhong, one of nearly 200 dissidents who signed an open letter to China’s 16th Party Congress calling for political reform.

Dai’s arrest in Shanghai follows the arrest last month of Xi’an-based dissident Zhao Changqing, who helped draft and gather signatures for the open letter.

Sources say Shanghai Public Security police arrested Dai around the middle of November, but no warrant or other formal documentation has been presented to Dai’s family. Shanghai police notified family members on December 3 that they should bring clothes and other necessities for Dai to the Public Security Bureau Detention House in Shanghai’s Putuo District, but gave no reason for Dai’s arrest. One source familiar with the situation told HRIC that Dai was arrested to punish his enthusiastic participation in the open letter.

Dai Xuezhong is a long-time dissident who participated in Shanghai’s Democracy Wall movement in 1979. Dai’s persistent demands for human rights and democratic reform have resulted in his being imprisoned and sent to Reeducation through Labor camps on many occasions. This most recent arrest follows shortly after his release from a previous incarceration. Dai’s mother has suffered an emotional collapse from the trauma of the multiple arrests, and is no longer able to take care of herself.

HRIC President Liu Qing notes that this is the latest in a series of arrests of opposition figures since the 16th Party Congress named Hu Jintao general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party. Others arrested around the time of the Party Congress include Fang Jue and his housekeeper Wang Jinzhi, Zhao Changqing, He Depu, Xu Wanping and He Guanchang. Fang, Wang, Zhao and He Depu have now been detained for more than a month without any formal notification given to their families.

Liu Qing says, “The secretive and undocumented nature of these arrests makes it all too clear that the new leadership under Hu Jintao is committed to suppressing dissenting voices just the same as the old regime. If anything, there’s every reason to fear that the new leadership has actually taken a step backward in terms of human rights and due process.”

HRIC deplores the arrest of Dai Xuezhong, and calls for his immediate release, along with that of the other recently arrested dissidents.

For more information, contact:
Stacy Mosher (English) 212-268-9074
Liu Qing (Chinese ) 212-239-4495